I’ve been watching the American Baking Competition lately and have really been enjoying it. The competition contestants are mostly home bakers, like me, and the things they’ve made so far are things that I would make or would like to make myself.
I was intrigued by this “magic in the middle” type of dessert that showed up on the cake challenge episode. To achieve this effect, pre-baked cake is cut out with a cookie cutter and placed inside the cake batter for another cake. This creates a surprise shape in the middle of the cake when it is sliced. Neat trick! It would have been nice if the recipe had been posted on the show’s site, but it wasn’t. I decided to see if I could wing it for my sweetie’s birthday cake and it turned out pretty well! I wasn’t sure of the proportions or bake times of anything and I think I need to try this again to really recommend a recipe. However, here is the basic technique that I used:
1. Bake a 1/2 recipe of vanilla pound cake in a 7.5″x11″ baking pan. Let the cake cool and use a cookie cutter to cut out as many shapes as possible. The shapes need to be small enough that they will fit into a bread pan when lined up.
2. Make a full recipe of chocolate pound cake. Spread about 1/2 inch of batter on the bottom of the greased loaf pan. The original cake recipe called for a 8.5″x4″ loaf pan. I used a 9″x5″ pan instead since I was creating more volume. Stack the cake shapes vertically in the cake pan on top of the layer of batter. Pack them as tightly as possible. In this case, I chose to put the hearts in wide side down because I knew I was going to serve the cake flipped over with glaze poured over the top (formerly the bottom) of the loaf. So, pay attention to how you layer your shapes so that when you slice the finished cake it will be as you want it.
3. Pour the remaining chocolate batter over the cake shapes in the loaf pan. It’s ok if the batter doesn’t come up fully over the cut-outs, just make sure to spread batter over them. The cake will rise enough to cover the shapes.
5. Bake the cake at the normal temperature for your pound cake recipe, but make sure to check it about 30-40 minutes earlier than the recipe calls for. Remember, you are only cooking the batter around the edges, the middle is already cooked. My recipe called for 1 hr 20 min at 350F. I checked it at the hour mark and it was already done. I think it was a little overdone as the chocolate part of the cake was slightly dry. It was still delicious though and once I covered it with a luscious chocolate glaze, the dryness wasn’t a problem.